When beginning your painting, always start with the lightest color and finish with your darkest color, this way your paint water will stay clean longer.

Many light coats of paint are better than one or  two heavy coats. Always add a little water to your paint for nice shear coats.

Always have  a 1" wash/glaze brush in a  seperate clean water container ad use it as you would an eraser to wash away any paint that goes outside of the area  that you want it to. This is much easier and faster than using Q-tips.  

When you need to drill holes into a project to hang, paint the design on first and then mark placement of holes, this is easier than tying to line the painting up with the holes.

If you are painting multiples for craft shows or gift giving, consider cutting stencils for the basecoat section of the design.

Don't know what to do with metal mason jar lids? Transfer christmas ornament patterns to them, punch a  hole in the top and hang on the tree.

Freezer paper makes for great inexpensive painters palette. It is available in most grocery stores anytime of the year.

Always stir up your paint with the brush and add a bit of water, your paint has alife of it's own, if it sits still too long it will get lumpy  just like you and me!!

Preparing your jar to paint. The longer I paint on jars, the more I learn new ways to prep them, so I have listed two common ways to prep. the jars and get them ready for the acrylic paint.
For many years I have used Flat Latex wall paint on the jars. First of all I remove any labels  by soaking in
warm soapy dish water for about 20 minutes.Turn them upside down to let them drain and dry.
Make sure jars or bottles are dry before going on to the next step.
Then with a foam brush, apply coat of the flat latex wall paint. I try to make it not too thick and not too thin. It get's better as you do more of them, you will be able to gauge how much to apply for the first coat.
IF your first coat is too thin, then when you go to put on the second coat, the first coat of paint, will come off!
I let the first coat cure for atleast 8 hours before doing the second and third coats. I also use a blow dryer after I do the second coat, which makes the jar, or bottle ready within minutes to apply the third coat.

Usually three coats of the flat wall paint is enough to cover and get the jar or bottle ready for the acrylic basecoat.
But now for better news! Recently I have discovered that spray painting the jars works just as good if not better! I tried it before but would always get those drips running down the jar, so I stuck to the flat wall paint method, but of course that method has it's draw backs!
So this time, I sprayed light coats of paint on the jar and let it dry before I went onto the next coat. When ever I have sprayed painted something before, I always rush the process and just keep spraying and spraying until I can't see through the jar or bottle and then the paint runs! So don't do it like that! Just nice light coats, let dry inbetween coats and when you can no longer see through the jar or bottle and it is completely dry, you are ready to apply the acrylic base coat! It's wonderful and so much faster! It also seems more durable to me. So from now on all my patterns will be giving the spray painting method for preping the jars!

Many of you ask me what do I seal my jars with? I have used different things.
My favorite thing is to use Delta- Perm -enamel Clear Gloss Glaze. That get's applied with a foam brush and dries in about 10 minutes. It is made just for glass and gives the jar or bottle the look of glass, nice and shiny and brings out the colors so well!  You can find this glaze with the Delta perm-enamel glass paints. Michael's sells them and I am sure other craft stores sell them too. I am not too sure about Jo-Ann Fabrics anymore. They used to sell it, but I haven't seen it there lately!
The other product I use to seal the jars is by Deco Art and is their  "indoor-outdoor"  gloss varnish. I have found that it is durable and gives the nice shine I like. You can always use a mat finish as well. Delta Perm-enamel has the glaze in matt as well and so does Deco Art with thier varnish.

One other question I get asked all the time is about that horrible painting word "floating" eck! That's the response most ladies have when they are asked to float a color! I use a mop brush my Maxine Thomas and her floating method. Here is the way it's done:

Things needed to float using a mop brush.
1. container of clean water, that always stays clean.
2. One 3/4" or 1/2" wash/glaze brush
3. Paper towel, about 4 sheets stacked on top of each other
I usually fold mine in half and then in half again to get a  nice thickness.
4. An angle brush or whatever brush you use to actually do the floating with.
5. Maxine Thomas 1/2" mop brush. I highly recommend Loew-Cornell's
Maxine Thomas brush. If is constructed to do a very good job and I have found no other as good as that one to mop with. There are a few different sizes of the mop brush. The 1/2" is the most popular size and works with just about anything you want to float with.

Now  on to how to float with the mop brush.
Load up your angle brush or whatever brush you use to float with.

Stroke it back and forth on your paint pallette
(freezer paper, meat tray, or whatever you use!)
Put the angle brush down and pick up your large wash/glaze brush
and dip it into the clean water. Pat some water off onto the paper
towel, then use it to brush the water on the area you are going to be
floating. Pick up your angle brush and float your color, onto the wet
area you just made. When you float press all the bristles of your
brush down, so they are all touching the surface. Brush down once
and then brush back up where you just floated the paint.
Quickly pick up your mop brush and using the side of the brush bristles
pat the brush up and down on the outer edge of your float.
This breaks up the pigma of the paint and gives you a soft edge.
Work the float with the mop brush. When you are done mopping
take the mop brush and hold it straight up and down over your
paper towel, perferrably over a clean wet spot and just brush the tips
of the bristles back and forth on the towel -kind of like a grandfather clock pendulum goes back and forth. DO NOT PUT THE MOP BRUSH IN ANY WATER CONTAINER!      *yikes*  that will ruin the effect of  the brush.
You must keep the mop brush dry in order to use it.

You may wash the mop brush out after you are done painting and wash it  out just like you would any other brush. They take alot longer to dry than regular brushes.

To antique a project, whether a jar or wood, the same method applies for both, here is the way that I do it.
You will need a tube of Burnt Umber Oil paint  and some Turpentine.
Put a dab of the Burnt Umber oil paint onto a styrofoam meat tray, or plastic bowl- that you can throw away.
Add a small amount of turpentine and mix the two until you have a soupy consistency.
Have two clean paper towels or rags next to your work area. Take one clean towel and dip it into the turpentine mixture. Wipe onto bottle. Take the other clean towel and wipe off what you  just put on there. Keep repeating this process until you get your jar or bottle to look the way you want it to. You donít need to seal the jar or bottle with anything after you antique it.

To paint the color red onto an area here is a tip that you may not be aware of:
Basecoat the area  with any medium color green. Red is a transparent color And if you put the green on first, You will only need to paint on one or two coats of red, instead of 15!
Now I know this looks funny especially when you are painting candy cane or apples. But how do apples turn into bright red apples, they become green first! Let's not hope that's the same for the candy canes!

Here is a great tip for keeping your brushes in nice condition.
Evelyn sent me this one and I do thank her for that! She writes:
I keep one wash brush that use only to apply varnish or clear gloss.
After cleaning it with soap and water, I stroke the brush through
hair conditioner (cream  rinse) to "recondition" it. When I am ready
to use it again, I rinse it well with water to remove all the
conditioner. By doing this, my brush seems to last longer.
Evelyn Swavely

Another tip from Julie Bates:
Cindy:  I am having so much fun with your books.  I have a tip for painting on the jars.  I found using a natural sponge to put the paint on the jar leaves no brush strokes.  It is fast and easy. 
Yours Truly, Julie Bates

Hi Cindy,
here's a tip, between coats of paint on your jar, when the coat is dry,
take a paper
sandwich bag, or tear off a piece of a paper grocery bag, (make sure
that it's unprinted so as not to transfer the ink to your project), and
lightly sand between each layer. It not only will smooth out any lumps
or imperfections in the paint layer, but it seems to almost seal the
layer for a smooth surface to paint the next layer, do this with your
last layer as well as each layer of varnish.
Let me know what you think when you try this, I've had great results
using this technique.
Denise Phillips

Tip on spray painting jars, submitted by Mary Sue Potter:
When I spray paint the first coat I use old plastic lids and set the jar upside down on them then I am able to spray the whole jar just by rotating the plastic lid.

  Lana Smith shares this tip with us: I have found that if you are going to paint your jar a solid
color, before painting a pattern or design on the jar, take a wooden dowel rod and stick it in the ground. Place your clean jar on the rod (mouth of the jar towards the ground)
Spray with a flat spray paint ( I use the cheap brand from Wal-Mart) Let dry. It is amazing how quickly the spray paint dries and it works like a primer. Your paint will not chip off and it saves alot of time because you don't have to keep painting the jar over and over again. I made a candle holder out of a mayonnaise jar that held a smaller votive holder in the mouth of the jar. I did it for Halloween and spray painted the jar black, then glued a small panel from Halloween fabric (use a paint brush to put glue in the back of the fabric) I then sponge painted with orange around the jar and finished it off with a clear spray sealer. Tie raffia around the neck of the jar, Cute!!!!! Cute!!!!
To add to Lana's tip, whenever you want to make a candle holder out of the jar, spray paint and then paint your design on top of the paint. (an old wine bottle makes agreat place to hang your jar when you spray paint too)You can then put a candle right in the jar and when you light it you will get a soft glow and not be able to see the brush strokes of the design you painted on top of the spray paint. Off-white spray paint gives a frosted look!

Hi Cindy - after reading through your tips I thought I would share one that has saved money for me and can for others as well.  I use styrofoam plates for my palette and I found that whenever I was interrupted and I would come back to paint my paint was dried out.  I always ended up adding paint because I like it fresh.  I now use Ziploc Table Top Dinner Plates (10") to keep my paint fresh.  You can purchase these in a set of 3 for approximately $4 or $5 at Walmart.  I place a wet paper towel folded in quarters inside the bottom plate and place my styrofoam plate on top of the paper towel and store the cover under the plate.  If I get interrupted I quickly snap the cover on and my paint stays moist.  I have left paint covered in the plate for two weeks and it is perfect - just uncover and use.  I no longer waste paint and if I happen to squeeze out too much (even though I am careful!) I don't worry as much because I know I can store it.  I have six of them - too many projects at one time - and I wouldn't live without them!  There have been many times I just need a touch of a color and have it on one of my other palettes - very little waste.  I provide one to every student - they love them too!  Allison  

Hi Cindy, while reading your paint tips I noticed you don't have this one.......I always keep a damp wash cloth handy to wipe any paint off my hands as I paint, so I don't get a color on something that I don't want there.....Clean hands makes for a clean project ...... Norma

Hi Cindy!
I wanted to let you and others know that I use a cheap plastic lazy susan to turn my projects as I paint. It spins and turns smoothly and I can contriol how slow or fast I want my projects to turn.  Since the lazy susan is made of plastic it is very easy to clean with soap and water.
Thank You for wonderful inspiring projects!
Alita Long

Dear, cindy, I came across you webb page on the jars , they are beautiful,
keep up the good work. Iam a decorative artist myself, I have a much easier
tip than all of the ones you have posted on the web. I use glass & tile
medium 869 by folk art , Michaels sells it, you apply this medium to your
jars and presto you paint your project, just follow the directions on the
bottle. Maria E. DeSantis

Hi Cindy, I was reading all of your painting tips ........heres one I use I keep q-tips instock...
.that way if some thing smears or bleeds over I can can gently sweep over it with a qtip......

I have been using Apple Barrel Indoor/Outdoor Gloss acrylic to paint my jars.
When finished, you pop them in the oven for 10 minutes to make the paint
more durable.  This paint can not be used where food comes into contact with
the glass, but the underside of glass plates looks very pretty!
The instructions for painting on glass are on the bottle.
I tried the flat latex and glass mediums!  This paint works much better!
  Here is a label remover tip.  I use electrosol citrix liquid dishwasher
soap.  I fill my sink with very hot water and add soap while water running to
make it a tiny bit sudsy.  Then I add jars right away.  Let in water until
cool.  Both label and adhesive peel right off.
The plastic lids that come on mayonaise jars can now be painted with the new spray paint for plastic. It works great and comes in many colors. Also whenever I buy new bottles of paint, I take a permanate marker and write the color on the lid plus put a dab of paint on it if it doesn't come with one already.
Kay Kinnison-Sangster
I store my bottles upside down and have labeled each one using
a small round sticker (found at dollar stores).
That way I can see the color and read the name.
Also I found it keeps my paint from drying out.


When your paint sit for a long while it gets lumpy,
and shaking doesnt help... i remove the cap and place
a small piece of old panty hose over the top and then
replace the cap, and when you squeeze out your paint
you get no lumps,( i have panty hose on almost every
bottle i have ) hate those lumps they are so annoying
hope this helps someone
Myra Shreves

Love your site and all of the interesting tips on painting.
I too love to paint on things found at sales. Removing labels can be frustrating.
I have found that using a blow dryer over the label for a few seconds loosens
the glue to the back of the label and you can then easily take it off in one piece.
Sometimes it will rip a little. The more you do it the easier it will become to know
when you have applied enough heat. Saves soaking and scrubbing. Also works
real well for removing labels from purchased wooden items you get at craft shows.
Karen Worlock
thanks for visiting!